October 21, 2021

Cárdenas, Espaillat, García, Correa, Escobar and Latino Leaders Demand Lasting Protections for Undocumented Communities

WASHINGTON, DC - Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and national Latino leaders held a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to demand lasting protections for undocumented immigrants and their families, emphasizing the vast contributions of immigrants to our economy and local communities and underscoring the political power Latinos have in demanding urgent solutions. The event was held as Senate Democrats continue to negotiate the inclusion of immigration reform in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill. 

“Immigrants are the heroes that got us through the pandemic. How is it that we’re going to allocate trillions of dollars and not include them in the package? That makes it morally bankrupt,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “We have several proposals that the Senate has put forward for the parliamentarian. But in fact, we need the collective will of the House, the Senate and the White House. We are in control, and we should have the political will to bring some level of help to immigrants while we spend three trillion dollars. That’s not a lot to ask for people who put their lives on the line during the pandemic for all of us.”

“This is not just about Dreamers, essential workers, farmworkers, and TPS holders — it’s about America,” said Congressman José Luis Correa (CA-46). “We’ve seen the statistics. America needs these immigrant workers to recover and be economically competitive internationally. Why can’t we give them a path to citizenship? We’ve waited thirty-five years; we cannot wait thirty-five more. We need to seize the moment.” 

“Today, as negotiations move forward and we find the important solutions our country needs, immigrants and immigrant relief need to be a part of that,” said Congressman Jesús (Chuy) García (IL-19). “We call upon the White House and Senate leaders to do what is right and what the immigrant community deserves; to remain bold and courageous as we have set out to make a difference in America; to provide equity — that means a fair shot for everyone.”

“This day has long ago been earned,” said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16). “For years, Republicans have told the nation they’ll agree to immigration reform if the border is secure. Border communities like El Paso have been subjected to severe militarization and limited civil rights and liberties in exchange for the promise for a path to citizenship. While communities on the border are among the safest in the country — not in spite of immigrants, but because of immigrants —Republicans keep lying to the public and moving the goalposts. It’s time to say enough. ¡Ya basta!”

“Immigration reform, getting our laws right in America, is more for the American people, for the American economy than it is for the more than eleven million people toiling every single day,” said Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29). “We’re here to remind our colleagues in the Senate that it is them, the elected people in the Senate, not the parliamentarian — an appointed individual who is there to advise — who will decide what they vote on. The job needs to be done. Without immigrants and immigration reform, we will not see economic recovery. Our country has been built beautifully, wonderfully on the backs of immigrants. It is time.”

“Legal protections, and the stability they provide to undocumented workers and families, must be included in the Build Back Better Act,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS. “It’s a win for workers, for families, and America as a whole.” 

“We cannot Build Back Better if we leave immigrants behind in our economic recovery,” said Frankie Miranda, President and CEO of the Hispanic Federation. “From healthcare workers who take care of us on the frontlines during this pandemic to the small business owners who stock basic goods, to farmworkers who put food on the table, the contributions of immigrants are critical to keeping our economy afloat. Yet, millions of immigrants continue to live their lives in limbo and in fear of deportation  - while jobs go unfilled. We must finally honor the contributions of undocumented communities and provide stability by creating a pathway to citizenship that unlocks opportunities for all to thrive. It is not only long overdue, but a strong economic recovery depends on it.” 

“For too many years, undocumented immigrants have lived next to us as both neighbors and contributing members of society. They are the harvesters of our food, caretakers of our elders, and essential workers who keep our businesses open. Most importantly, they are the families and children severely affected by our broken promises of a brighter future.” said Sindy M. Benavides, Chief Executive Officer, LULAC. “The Pew Research Center found that more than 80% of Latinos and 70% of Americans support immigration changes. Inaction on a pathway to citizenship is bad policy for the United States.” 

“We won’t take no for an answer this time. Solutions to our broken immigration system keep getting kicked down the road, ignoring the undocumented families and individuals that helped build our nation, and kept it open throughout the pandemic," said Voto Latino CEO Maria Teresa Kumar. "We will not stop fighting for the millions of Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders and undocumented essential workers whose lives constantly hang in the balance despite calling this country home. Now is the opportunity to pass this legislation, permanently protecting those who constantly live in fear of having their lives upended. We are optimistic a solution can still be found, and we will hold our elected representatives accountable until those campaign promises are fulfilled."

“Enough with politicians of both parties who make promises but don’t deliver,” said Héctor Sánchez Barba, Executive Director and CEO, Mi Familia Vota. “We need a real commitment to immigration in our nation. We are going to continue organizing in every community. As the second-largest community in the nation, the Latino vote is powerful, and we will continue the work to demand what is right for our country. No more excuses — the opportunity is here on the table with this legislation, so let’s get it done.” 

“If gratitude and American values aren’t enough for some members of Congress to vote yes on a pathway to citizenship, then they should do so because our country needs those workers,” said Kenneth Romero, Chair, National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. “The supply chain crisis will not abate before the holidays without them. Our hospitals will not have enough nurses. And the food we grow may not make it to American tables. And if even that is not enough, then they should vote yes because we, and the ever-increasing tide of Hispanic voters, will not forgive or forget if they don’t.” 

“We have a loud, crystal clear message to those in Congress: we are done waiting,” said Sergio Gonzales, Executive Director, Immigration Hub. “Promises are not enough. We heard promises in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2013, and we never got the protections our communities need. Latinos fueled victory in 2020 and proved to be the new swing voter, and we will not accept any more excuses. 

A full recording of the event is available on Twitter

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